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Sustainable Gardening & Land Use Guidelines

The Central Park Community Garden contains several features to demonstrate eco-friendly gardening methods. The regulations for the garden aim to have zero impact and enhance the quality of the open green space and biodiversity. 

Find out about:

  • Site Design
  • Water Use & Conservation
  • Waste Management & Composting
  • Plant Material Selection
  • Communication
  • Wildlife & Pest Management
  • Composting
  • Energy

 
Site Design
  • The garden plots are framed using untreated spruce and filled with locally sourced triple mix soil and compost from the Halton Region Yard Waste program.
  • Except for the entrance and walkway from the parking area which need to be concrete in accordance to the city’s accessibility guidelines, the pathways between the plots are permeable using woodchips from the City of Burlington Roads and Parks Maintenance Cumberland yard which stockpiles chipped local trees that have come down for various reasons.
  • The garden shed is plywood with a surrounding planting of hops vines which will eventually cover over the roof.
  • The 3 bin compost system was been by RPM staff reusing picnic table lumber and street signs.
  • A cabinet securing the water faucet is a repurposed metal hydro box
  • A bench came from existing parks stock
  • A cold frame and shelving for a vertical garden was made from untreated pine.
  • The entire site is situated in a public park with significant mature cedars and pines and other ornamental shrub and garden beds close by.
  • Top up compost is provided by the adjacent RPM yard which digs into the middle of an active composting pile of park plant bed material, grass clippings, soil, etc.  that is only about 50m from the garden site.

Water Use & Conservation
  • A waterline spur was installed from an existing line close by so municipal water is available from one faucet.  A 100 ft. hose allows gardeners to fill 13 on site rain barrels.
  • 7 of the rain barrels are from the Halton Region rain barrel program and sale.  6 are from Rainbarrel.ca which are repurposed food grade barrels.
  • Gardeners are encouraged to fill their rain barrels and water by watering can.
  • Evaporation prevention is encouraged and straw is often donated and available for use.
  • Fog capture utilizing the fence and drip lines has been investigated to help irrigate the surrounding perennial beds but may hinder
  • A reservoir to contain parking lot snow melt or snow piles created by ice clearing at Central Arena are areas that could be explored further.
  • A demonstrative 20-unit hydroponic rooftop container system is set up in both a horizontal orientation (i.e. balcony railing) and vertical display. The containers are Canadian made, have a bottom reservoir that is connected by flexible piping that hold and evenly distributes water (that can contain organic seaweed based nutrients). Interior slotted baskets filled with vermiculite and soil lick up the water to the plant roots, hence plants are irrigated from the bottom up except for rainfall. Landscape material across the surface helps slow water evaporation. 
  • The accessible plots can dry out faster than the ground based plots, so they have been lined with coconut fibre and reused bottles have been dug into the surface to help channel water to the base and plant roots rather than only watering the surface. 

Waste Management & Composting
  • A large green tote is used for plant waste only situated near the accessible plots. Contents are transferred to the 3-bin composter or directly to the nearby RPM plant bedding stockpile.
  • A small greet cart is used for gardener’s compostable waste i.e. coffee cups, coconut fibre and peat pots, food that may contain dairy or meat. The garden coordinator empties this as needed.
  • A large recycling tote is available to contain used plastic plant pots & trays and other recyclable materials. The garden coordinator empties this as needed.
  • Plant pots and trays are sorted and taken to a garden centre that participates in the Take It Back Halton program.
  • A very small garbage bin is located inside the garden shed which is emptied as needed.
  • Gardeners are encouraged to utilize organic seed and plants but this is not a requirement. Organic methods to raise the plants are required as synthetic fertilizer, herbicides or pesticides are prohibited.
  • Seed from the previous season is saved, stored, sorted, labelled and packaged with volunteer assistance to contribute to the next year’s community seed exchange event.
     
Plant material selection
  • The hydroponic containers are planted with a selection of herbs, annuals and edible flowering plants to showcase diversity and heirloom varieties available.
  • Along the entrance walkway drought-tolerant perennials include stonecrop, artemisia, russian sage, lavender, and hens & chick succulents
  • In the front donation beds non-toxic, native herbal shrubs provide year round texture and colour. Edible perennials are also included i.e. asparagus, strawberries, creeping thyme, chives.
  • Around the garden site a 1m x 74m perimeter garden serves multiple demonstrative goals including how to include attractive edible plants in landscape design, and how to include non-toxic perennial plants that will attract pollinating birds and insects to a garden (eg. butterfly bush, Russian sage, salvia, iris, cranesbills geranium, tradescantia).
  • In the garden plots all selections made by gardeners must be food related with some annual flowers allowed to attract pollinators.  Non-native invasive or illegal plants are prohibited.
  • A demonstrative cold frame may be utilize store and to harden seedlings in early spring, neatly store horticulture materials in summer, and extend the growing season into the fall.
  • A mini orchard was planted in 2013 for fruit tree demonstration and fruit donation. Included are grafted apple and pear trees that show multi varieties on one tree which is useful for cross-pollination.
     
Communication
  • On-site chalk and white reusable boards in the garden shed are used frequently.
  • Notices may be pinned up inside the garden shed.
  • Electronic methods used by the garden coordinator to communicate to the group include e-mail, newsletter, website.
  • Social media including Twitter and Facebook is utilized to share with the larger public.

Wildlife & Pest Management
  • A mallard duck couple known to Central Park chose to create a nest in 2013 with a clutch of 10 eggs in a relatively safe spot between the compost bins and fence (which is wonderful for public non-intrusive viewing). Gardeners collectively decided not to remove the nest, and watch for the ducklings to hatch. Three weeks into nesting, racoons stole the eggs. The MNR has said the mallard may try again next year in the same spot or nearby.
  • The site contains an active population of voles which do eat tomatoes and other young seedlings, but also insects and snails. They reproduce quickly but have a high young mortality rate. As a population increases generally so do local raptors and fox.
  • Rabbits do exist and can enter the garden site when young enough to get through the fence chain link spaces, however once larger they cannot and have not been much of a problem.
  • Songbirds are very attracted to the garden site especially if birdseed is available. Hummingbirds have been seen in August. Dragonflies and butterflies are very attracted to the shrubs surrounding the garden and flowering plants in the garden plots.
  • Integrated Pest Management methods are encouraged since garden regulations do not allow synthetic herbicides or pesticides. 

Composting
  • To avoid over filling the compost bin system excess plant material needs to be removed and transferred to the nearby RPM stockpile of bedding material.
  • End of season clear out can quickly overload the compost bins, so more frequent use of the green tote is needed to remove excess plant material from the site. During this time, gardeners are asked to bring yard waste bags and take excess plant material home to utilize the curb side pick up by Halton Region.
  • It is helpful to have a dedicated volunteer to maintain and rotate the compost bins which, when maintained well, can be very active and produce compost quite quickly.

Energy
  • Solar light torches have been used to help provide light along the entrance gate.
  • There is no electrical on the site proper, however an extension cord from the nearby washroom building can reach the garden if required.